Wallace Online

| 25 Comments

The written works of Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer with Darwin of the principle of natural selection, are now online. The Wallace Online project is directed by John van Wyhe, who also produced the Darwin Online project. Enjoy!

Via the BBC

25 Comments

If Darwin had never lived, the creationists would be carping about Wallaceism (a term used by Wallace - see http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith[…]ace/S666.htm ).

As it is, they are trying to use Wallace against Darwin. See the current posts at Uncommon Descent, for example.

Actually, Wallace did not promote the term Wallaceism. When he came to write a book on his views on evolution in 1889, what did he title it? Darwinism.

Joe Felsenstein said:

As it is, they are trying to use Wallace against Darwin. See the current posts at Uncommon Descent, for example.

So too is molecular biologist James A. Shapiro. He claims Darwin didn’t understand Natural Selection as well as Wallace - snd he contends that Wallace had a better understanding of it - until he received Wallace’s 1858 essay. Unfortunately, these observations ignore the substantial history of science which establishes Darwin’s primacy in discovering Natural Selection first,

I’m creationist but enjoyed reading at least one book of Wallcae’s. I most liked that he describe island faunas/insects as coming from previous migration events and so explaining why they were so different from surrounding areas or types. In fact I think it undercuts the need for seeing any selectionism in nature. Migrations from original greater diversity can explain a lot in biogeography.

Both he and Darwin were simply realizing it was unreasonable and impossible that every place had creatures move into unchanged from where they migrated and so there must be a important mechanism that has or is affecting biological entities. They got excited about overthrowing obscure ideas of fixity but in reality there was no problem in biblical boundaries. Just allow fluidity in kinds for filling the earth, as God dictated to the creatures, and allow for innate biological mechanism and no need for the error of evolutionary biology.

I undersatand Wallace is very liked by the creationist tribes because he insisted evolution must not and does erase the need for a creator and perhaps he didn’t man being turned into a animal by biology or soul.

Robert Byers said:

I’m creationist but enjoyed reading at least one book of Wallcae’s. I most liked that he describe island faunas/insects as coming from previous migration events and so explaining why they were so different from surrounding areas or types. In fact I think it undercuts the need for seeing any selectionism in nature.

No it doesn’t. How you would conclude that from the evidence is a mystery. Oh, you probably didn’t, liar.

Migrations from original greater diversity can explain a lot in biogeography.

Both he and Darwin were simply realizing it was unreasonable and impossible that every place had creatures move into unchanged from where they migrated and so there must be a important mechanism that has or is affecting biological entities. They got excited about overthrowing obscure ideas of fixity but in reality there was no problem in biblical boundaries.

There is also no REASON for Biblical boundaries, or any boundaries whatsoever.

Just allow fluidity in kinds for filling the earth, as God dictated to the creatures, and allow for innate biological mechanism and no need for the error of evolutionary biology.

This is the old, “evolution within limits” fallacy. There is NO evidence that there is a limit to how lines of organisms may change over a long period of time. It’s merely a cop-out to say that evolution may occur in some degrees and instances and not in others.

I undersatand Wallace is very liked by the creationist tribes because he insisted evolution must not and does erase the need for a creator and perhaps he didn’t man being turned into a animal by biology or soul.

Wallace’s opinions about those matters were not scientific, however.

Robert Byers said: I undersatand Wallace is very liked by the creationist tribes because he insisted evolution must not and does erase the need for a creator and perhaps he didn’t man being turned into a animal by biology or soul.

I’m not sure what you are saying, but I’d note that many people believe that reproduction by natural means (even if it involves some randomness) does not conflict with the individual or the soul being the immediate product of creation - or with there being a special relationship between each individual human being and his/her Redeemer.

TomS said:

Robert Byers said: I undersatand Wallace is very liked by the creationist tribes because he insisted evolution must not and does erase the need for a creator and perhaps he didn’t man being turned into a animal by biology or soul.

I’m not sure what you are saying, but I’d note that many people believe that reproduction by natural means (even if it involves some randomness) does not conflict with the individual or the soul being the immediate product of creation - or with there being a special relationship between each individual human being and his/her Redeemer.

I think he is referring to Wallace’s interest in spiritualism later in life and in believing that GOD was responsible in creating humanity, via invoking more than Natural Selection.

dalehusband said:

Robert Byers said:

I undersatand Wallace is very liked by the creationist tribes…

Wallace’s opinions about those matters were not scientific, however.

…which is precisely why creationists like Wallace.

As it is, they are trying to use Wallace against Darwin. See the current posts at Uncommon Descent, for example.

…which is precisely why creationists like Wallace.

Yep, I’ve heard a number of these claims from YECs about Wallace recently.

Then again, I’ve heard the same thing about Pasteur, Newton, Kelvin, Steno, and even Copernicus.

I suppose Wallace is just the latest.

Wallace did differ from Darwin in that Wallace (at least later in life) argued that human cognition didn’t have evolutionary precursors. I don’t now recall the reference–it’s been some years since I read it–but it may have been in Darwinism.

Biogeography was of course one of the main types of evidence that Darwin used to demonstrate descent with modification. The fact that finches on the Galapagos islands more closely resemble their mainland progenitors than birds on tropical islands elsewhere is strong evidence of descent with modification. Modern genetic analysis has confirmed these relationships.

Here’s the last sentence of Wallace’s Darwinism:

We thus find that the Darwinian theory, even when carried out to its extreme logical conclusion, not only does not oppose, but lends a decided support to, a belief in the spiritual nature of man. It shows us how man’s body may have been developed from that of a lower animal form under the law of natural selection; but it also teaches us that we possess intellectual and moral faculties which could not have been so developed, but must have had another origin; and for this origin we can only find an adequate cause in the unseen universe of Spirit.

Wallace was an evolutionary theist but not a creationist. He was also racist (he felt that the “higher civilised races” had a greater amount of god-granted spiritual and intellectual power than the “rudimentary condition in savages”).

DS said:

Biogeography was of course one of the main types of evidence that Darwin used to demonstrate descent with modification. The fact that finches on the Galapagos islands more closely resemble their mainland progenitors than birds on tropical islands elsewhere is strong evidence of descent with modification. Modern genetic analysis has confirmed these relationships.

Agreed. Indeed, to give Wallace his due, he is remembered as the “father” of biogeography, especially for his pioneering work in the East Indies. However, he was wrong in asserting that human consciousness was due not to Natural Selection, but instead, to Divine Providence (which is why he’s getting renewed attention - as well as admiration - by the Disco Tute and Uncommonly Dense, among others).

Chris Lawson said:

Here’s the last sentence of Wallace’s Darwinism:

We thus find that the Darwinian theory, even when carried out to its extreme logical conclusion, not only does not oppose, but lends a decided support to, a belief in the spiritual nature of man. It shows us how man’s body may have been developed from that of a lower animal form under the law of natural selection; but it also teaches us that we possess intellectual and moral faculties which could not have been so developed, but must have had another origin; and for this origin we can only find an adequate cause in the unseen universe of Spirit.

Wallace was an evolutionary theist but not a creationist. He was also racist (he felt that the “higher civilised races” had a greater amount of god-granted spiritual and intellectual power than the “rudimentary condition in savages”).

Probably no more than Darwin was: Virtually all Englishmen in Darwin’s time viewed blacks as culturally and intellectually inferior to Europeans.

Mal Adapted said:

Chris Lawson said: Wallace…was also racist…

Probably no more than Darwin was…

Keep in mind that when “Origin” was published, slavery had been abolished in England but was still legal in the United States.

Wallace’s opinions about those matters were not scientific, however.

…which is precisely why creationists like Wallace.

They “like” Wallace in the sense that they can distort his words to paint him as being markedly at odds with Darwin, even though he himself stressed his agreement with Darwin.

As for advocates of good science who happen to be religious, creationists tend to loathe them. Ken Miller, Francis Collins, or religious leaders who advocate accepting science don’t get any love from creationists.

Wallace lived in the nineteenth century and accepted some nineteenth century cultural beliefs, as did Darwin and almost every other nineteenth century scientist.

The modern equivalent of Wallace is not someone who believes in Ouija board spiritualism, racist propaganda in defence of colonialism, impossibility of brain evolution, etc. Those are things Wallace believed because he lived in the nineteenth century.

The modern equivalent of Wallace is a religious person who does not deny basic science - something creationist loathe.

(For the record, I am not religious, although I am something of a Christian atheist.)

I just know that I am eagerly awaiting Weikart’s book on how Wallace’s ideas led to the Nazis and the Holocaust.

What’s that you say? The wait will be long? But…why?

Glen Davidson

harold said:

As for advocates of good science who happen to be religious, creationists tend to loathe them. Ken Miller, Francis Collins, or religious leaders who advocate accepting science don’t get any love from creationists.

Henry Morris and his “Vital Doctrine” quickly comes to mind.

Paul Burnett said:

Keep in mind that when “Origin” was published, slavery had been abolished in England but was still legal in the United States.

Another historical figure who can be compared directly to Darwin and Wallace is Abraham Lincoln. He too can be found making racist arguments. In fact, in both those statements and in his views on slavery, his views are not far from Darwin’s.

But somehow the Discovery Institute does not go around arguing that Lincolnism caused racism.

Joe Felsenstein said:Another historical figure who can be compared directly to Darwin and Wallace is Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln and Darwin were born on the same day - February 12, 1809. Surely there’s some cosmic significance there.

Paul Burnett said:

Joe Felsenstein said:Another historical figure who can be compared directly to Darwin and Wallace is Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln and Darwin were born on the same day - February 12, 1809. Surely there’s some cosmic significance there.

I have always thought so too, Paul.

Mal Adapted,

Darwin, like everyone of his time, held some racist beliefs and used terms like “savages” and “barbarians” that were normative in their time but would be considered racist now – but he was markedly less racist than Wallace as he believed that (i) all humans were pretty much the same, (ii) that the differences between races was more to do with cultural and historical developments than heredity, (iii) that the moral and intellectual achievements of Western Europe were natural developments and not due to divinely-created superiority.

Here’s Darwin from The Descent of Man:

Nor is the difference slight in moral disposition between a barbarian, such as the man described by the old navigator Byron, who dashed his child on the rocks for dropping a basket of sea-urchins, and a Howard or Clarkson; and in intellect, between a savage who uses hardly any abstract terms, and a Newton or Shakespeare. Differences of this kind between the highest men of the highest races and the lowest savages, are connected by the finest gradations. Therefore it is possible that they might pass and be developed into each other.

If you want an exceptionally well-researched and thorough analysis of Darwin and racism, I can recommend http://www.rationalrevolution.net/a[…]n_nazism.htm

Chris Lawson said:

Mal Adapted,

Darwin, like everyone of his time, held some racist beliefs and used terms like “savages” and “barbarians” that were normative in their time but would be considered racist now – but he was markedly less racist than Wallace as he believed that (i) all humans were pretty much the same, (ii) that the differences between races was more to do with cultural and historical developments than heredity, (iii) that the moral and intellectual achievements of Western Europe were natural developments and not due to divinely-created superiority.

Here’s Darwin from The Descent of Man:

Nor is the difference slight in moral disposition between a barbarian, such as the man described by the old navigator Byron, who dashed his child on the rocks for dropping a basket of sea-urchins, and a Howard or Clarkson; and in intellect, between a savage who uses hardly any abstract terms, and a Newton or Shakespeare. Differences of this kind between the highest men of the highest races and the lowest savages, are connected by the finest gradations. Therefore it is possible that they might pass and be developed into each other.

If you want an exceptionally well-researched and thorough analysis of Darwin and racism, I can recommend http://www.rationalrevolution.net/a[…]n_nazism.htm

The linked article mentions the 2001 statement by Louisiana State Representative Sharon Broome. It is my understanding that Sharon Broome eventually retracted that statement, or withdrew whatever legislative proposal it was attached to. This is a rather vague memory of mine from 2001. Needless to say Google, at least when used superficially, merely brings up thousands of second, third, and tenth hand quotes of her original statement. The Wikipedia article on Sharon Weston Broome doesn’t mention the incident at all.

For completeness, can anyone confirm my recollection that she eventually moved away from that statement?

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on September 28, 2012 12:12 PM.

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